Tuesday 19 February, 2008
I was glad to have beaten the Deku Tree. Once the dungeon is cleared, the Deku Tree presented me with the first of many quest-related items, the Kokiri’s Emerald. This allowed me to then leave the forest, where Saria gave me the Fairy Ocarina, which introduced the new gameplay element of music, one of the main story and gameplay aspects of Ocarina of Time.
The Ocarina is used to play magical songs that you learn through your quest, and when certain songs are played, events occur (the Sun’s Song switches day to night and night to day). However, when you pull out the Ocarina, all other gameplay stops. The game goes into a frozen time state, where the only action is Link playing his Ocarina. This makes the musical aspect kind of static and non-dynamic because it is completely separate from the other environment aspects. Memorizing the songs is basically the only challenge of the Ocarina (but you can pause and go into the menu to see the songs listed, so you don’t really have to memorize them anyway). It would be much harder if you had to, say, play the songs while in the middle of battle, trying to avoid being hit while hitting the correct notes. But this isn’t the case.
Also, the Ocarina is limited to 5 notes. Although you can control the pitch of the notes with the control stick, none of the songs require you to change the pitch, so pitch control is a useless addition towards the gameplay.
The graphical quality of this game is astounding, for its time. I remember when it first came out, it was one of the most realistic looking RPG’s ever.
The forest’s milieu is very tranquil, as should it be, to show that Link comes from a peaceful town that doesn’t know death (since the forest kids are immortal spirits who don’t grow old). The music is cheerful, as are all the characters (besides Mido, who stops you when you try to pass without a sword and shield). The first section of the game is supposed to ease you in to the game world and get you used to its mechanics, such as jumping from ledges, finding rupees (to buy the shield), avoiding obstacles (rolling boulders on your way to getting the sword), and talking to townsfolk for information. The Deku Tree stands as the all-knowing mentor that guides you (and gives you Navi the Fairy, who will guide you through the rest of the game with her annoying “HEYs” and “LISTENs”).
The inside of the tree, as well as all the rest of the dungeons, seem to give a sense of aloneness, in a dark, dank dungeon where no one has been for a very long time. By using darker lighting, spider webs, and large ancient rock devices, you really get a sense of danger. The dungeons become increasingly harder as the game progresses, and by the time you have found a wide range of items, the puzzles become more complex, causing you to utilize and remember the functionality of all your weapons and items accumulated thus far. The pleasant feel of Ocarina of Time never lets the player down, and always keeps the player immersed in Hyrule.
The land of Hyrule is beautiful (the rolling hills of Hyrule Field and the sandy desert of Gerudo Valley are good examples), and makes full use of the N64's graphics capabilities. The sun sets and changes the lighting and makes way for nightfall, which is also lit very well.
This game ties together a beautiful landscape, challenging dungeons, memorable bosses, believable characters, and fun, dynamic gameplay into an experience that truly earns The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time a spot on the classics list.